In our desire to look nice, to have a clear skin, or shiny hair, most of us apply a variety of cosmetics and skin care products on a regular basis. In fact, research shows that on an average, a normal person uses approximately 10 or more personal care products daily. Some products do benefit us, by enhancing our appearance, while others are just a waste of money. Some studies also show that most ingredients or chemicals in cosmetic products that we apply, tend to penetrate deep into our skin and are not completely tested for toxicity. In fact, some harmful chemicals in cosmetics such as lotions, shampoos, soaps, conditioners, etc., are known to be neurotoxins, carcinogens, etc. But to look clean and nice and to smell good, most of us usually ignore the presence of these hazardous chemicals and their effects.
Chemicals to Avoid
Here are some dangerous chemicals that can be unsafe to your health, and their regular exposure can raise many health concerns.
Antibacterials: Antibacterials like triclosan, that are used in many products like soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, etc., are easily absorbed by the skin and are known to be toxic or carcinogenic in nature. Research shows that antibacterials can interfere with the functioning of testosterone in cells, and can destroy some good bacteria like pathogens, resulting in increase of susceptibility to certain infections.
Butyl Acetate: Butyl acetate is a commonly used ingredient in nail strengtheners and polishes, the continuous use of which can lead to cracked or dry skin. Moreover, too much inhalation of butyl acetate vapors can result in dizziness or drowsiness.
Cationic Surfactants: Cationic surfactants are chemicals used in hair conditioners or softeners that have positive electrical charge. When used on a regular basis, these synthetic chemicals can damage hair and make them dry and brittle.
Coal Tar: Coal tar is another harmful chemical, which is commonly used in many anti-dandruff and anti-itch creams. It is also found to be carcinogenic in nature when injected under skin.
Diethanolamine (DEA): Diethanolamine is a toxin used with cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA, as emulsifiers and foaming agents in many personal care products like shampoos, shaving creams, moisturizers, skin lotions, and baby washes. It is carcinogenic in nature and acts as a hormone disruptor by depleting choline from the body, a vitamin essential for fetal growth.
1,4-Dioxane: 1,4-Dioxane is a popular animal carcinogen and a potential human carcinogen that can be found in products (usually shampoos and body washes) having sodium laureth sulfate, chemicals with the terms like ‘PEG’, ‘-xynol’,’ceteareth’, ‘oleth’ and many other ethoxylated ‘eth’ ingredients.
Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is another harmful chemical which is commonly used in baby bath soaps, nail polishes, eyelash adhesives, and hair dyes, or at times can be found as a break-down product of diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium compounds. Its continuous use can result in various health problems like immune-system toxicity, respiratory irritation, and even cancer.
Fragrance: Fragrances or phthalates are known to act as endocrine disruptors and can lead to various health ailments like obesity, skin allergies, and discolorations, violent coughing, dizziness, etc. It is recommended that in place of phthalates, you should use essential oil fragrances.
Lead: Lead, a neurotoxin, is usually found as a toxic in hydrated silica, an ingredient in toothpaste or as lead acetate, an ingredient in lipsticks and men hair dyes. Even at very low concentrations, it is known to cause brain damage and development delays in humans.
Mercury: Mercury, which is found in preservative thimerosol, an ingredient generally used in many eye make up products like mascaras can lead to many health problems like allergies, skin irritations, neurological damage, bioacculumation, etc.
Nanoparticles: Nanoparticles, especially zinc oxide and titanium dioxide particles, which are normally used in sunscreens lotions and creams, can easily penetrate the skin and destroy the brain cells.
Petroleum Distillates: Petroleum distillates, also termed as petroleum or liquid paraffin, are some potential human carcinogens that are found in many cosmetics like mascaras, foot odor powder, etc.
P-Phenylenediamine: Also termed as 1,4-Benzenediamine; p-Phenyldiamine and 4-Phenylenediamine, P-Phenylenediamine is a harmful chemical that is commonly found in hair dyes and can lead to nervous system damage, lung irritation, and other allergic reactions.
TEA (Triethanolamine) Laureth Sulfate: This is a synthetic emulsifier that is highly acidic in nature and is generally associated with nitrosamines, which are potential carcinogens. The chemical can cause severe skin irritation and is highly corrosive to eyes.
Talc: Talc is another toxic chemical used in cosmetics like eye shadow, blush, deodorant, soap, etc., for its moisture absorbing properties and ability to provide a hint of sparkle. It serves as a human carcinogen and is also known to cause ovarian cancer and lung tumors.
After learning about these chemicals, I hope you take a close look at the ingredients, the next time you buy a beauty product.